Rochester City School Board Commissioner Melisza Campos announced Thursday she will not be seeking re-election to a third term, and will be putting her support behind long-time educator, political and community advocate Luis Perez.
“It’s with mixed feelings that I announce that I will not be running for re-election,” Campos said in a press conference at Passero Associates, 242 Main St. “In looking at the next four years of my life, lots of demands are gonna’ continue to come forth—weather it be family or career—and I felt like it would be the best thing for the people of Rochester to have new ideas, and to have someone who can commit more in the next four years than I would be capable of doing.”
Campos has been on the school board since 2008.
She has been known as a passionate, behind-the-scenes voice for student achievement, school safety and resource allocation.
Campos is also chair of the Community and Intergovernmental Relations Committee, and is part of the Quality Assurance and Board Governance committees.
“I feel frustration because we can’t move fast enough in order to address the issues that our children have,” she stated. “But also I feel hope, I feel hope that there is opportunity for our kids, and that we have to have the right people on the bus that can capitalize on those opportunities.”
Campos says she is endorsing Perez because he is a champion for students, and a strong but flexible leader with a moral compass.
“He has empowered our students through summer learning, and he is enriching their lives already, so this is just a natural extension for him. It’s what he believes in. He has been in this community for such a long time, and he has made a difference.”
Luis Perez is currently Executive Director of Horizons at The Harley School, a program designed to help urban children find success in school, and set high goals for themselves.
In addition, an adjunct professor of Social Work at Roberts Wesleyan College, Perez is no stranger to Rochester politics, having run for office in the past.
“In 1999, sixteen years ago, I announced a run for school board. Four campaigns later, I’ve come full circle. I’m very excited to once again to announce my intention to follow in Melisza’s footsteps, and run for city school district board of commissioners.”
Perez said his passion to help students succeed began back in March 27, 1987 when he and his wife started an outreach ministry to inner city kids.
“We had no idea how this small desire to help students and families would alter our lives, and set the course for what we have done in the past twenty-seven years,” Perez stated. “Within six months, we were picking up a couple hundred kids every Saturday from some of the most challenging neighborhoods in the city, and invariably became involved in their lives.”
Perez said a couple years later, on a plane to Guadalajara, Mexico on behalf of Eastman Kodak Co., he pulled out his list from that weekend outreach and began to review it.
“The first kid on my list had just gotten suspended from school, the second kid on my list, his father had just gone to jail. I looked up and looked around the airplane, and thought, what am I doing? I knew in my heart this was what I was to do the rest of my life—to connect the dots for our kids. It was with that conviction I left Eastman Kodak, and went to school to become a social worker.”
And, while he will be unfolding his agenda and action plan over the next few months, Perez said as a RCSD Commissioner he will focus on commitment, consistency, collaboration, caring and compassion.
He said his ability to bring people together, his proven leadership in the community and academia, and his years of experience working with students and parents will make him a good candidate for RCSD Commissioner.
“For twenty-seven years, I’ve sat across living room and dining room tables, and heard the heart of parent s for their children. Many of our families are working as hard as they can, while facing daunting economic and social challenges ;but they are not giving up… our families need individuals who understand their plight and with compassion, respect and dignity can come along to give them voice and hope. I want to be one of those persons,” he said.